Caps, Ovechkin try to get back on track vs. Kings

NHL Hockey
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The Washington Capitals will be trying to bounce back from a tough loss while the visiting Los Angeles Kings continue trying to find their way with a rebuilding group when the teams meet on Tuesday night.

Washington is coming off a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon in the first meeting between the two teams this season. Alex Ovechkin, who had scored 11 goals in his previous five games before Sunday to move within five of 700 for his career, was held without a point as Pittsburgh led most of the way.

The Caps started slowly again, falling behind 3-1 after two periods before putting pressure on the Penguins and cutting the lead to one twice. Still, though they came up short. The 12:30 p.m. start seemed to slow the Caps a bit but they were much better in the third period.

“The third (period) was definitely closer to our identity,” Caps coach Todd Reirden said in a postgame news conference. “Sometimes, until you get everybody in your group involved and into a rivalry, you don’t understand what it really means. So it took us two periods to get to that, and now we’re in third and we gave ourselves a chance, and unfortunately came out a goal short.”

The teams will meet three more times, once this month in Washington and twice more at Pittsburgh in March. One way or the other, if the Caps want to get back to the Eastern Conference finals or the Stanley Cup Final, they’ll likely need to battle with the Penguins.

Washington might have the start of a goalie issue on its hands. Reirden started rookie Ilya Samsonov for a second straight game as he had won 11 straight decisions while struggling veteran Braden Holtby sat.

The guess here is Holtby plays in the Los Angeles game but the Caps need him to get back on track fast.

The Kings come to town for their second game against Washington this season. Samsonov was in net for a 3-1 victory in Los Angeles on Dec. 4.

This will be the only time Los Angeles comes to Washington this season, and it’s going to be the final meeting between the two teams.

The Kings are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. Tyler Toffoli scored the only Los Angeles goal, and Jonathan Quick finished with 25 saves.

That loss was the Kings’ sixth in the last seven games as they’ve gone 1-5-1 during that stretch. NHL.com said that Drew Doughty sat out a third consecutive game due to an undisclosed injury.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Super Bowl Sunday that the Kings are hoping to get Doughty back into the lineup for the Washington game Tuesday.

Alex Iafallo was strong throughout the month of January and earned the team’s Player of the Month honor for the second time in 2019-2020. During one nine-game stretch, he posted four goals and six assists for 10 points and gave the Kings’ offense a jolt.

He even notched his first career hat trick, scoring every Los Angeles goal in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 30.

–Field Level Media

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